AFC West: Kansas City Chiefs

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Linebacker Justin Houston was named 2014 Most Valuable Player and De'Anthony Thomas rookie of the year by the Kansas City Chiefs on Saturday.

Cornerback Gary Green, who played for the Chiefs from 1977 through 1983, is this year’s entrant to the Chiefs Hall of Fame.

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Houston
Houston, 26, had the greatest season of any pass rusher in Chiefs history. He led the NFL with 22 sacks, finishing a half-sack from the NFL record set by Michael Strahan of the New York Giants in 2001.

But Houston was more than just an outstanding pass-rusher. He also excelled at playing the run and in pass coverage. He was far and away the top-rated 3-4 outside linebacker by Pro Football Focus in 2014 as an overall player and pass rusher. Houston rated fourth as a run defender and tied for fourth in coverage.

Thomas, the Chiefs’ fourth-round draft pick from Oregon, won the award mainly for his special-teams contributions. On offense, he caught 23 passes for 156 yards and rushed 14 times for 113 yards and a touchdown.

Thomas was one of the NFL’s most dangerous kick returners. He was third in the league in punt-return average at 11.9 yards and had an 81-yard touchdown in December against the Oakland Raiders. His 30.6-yard average on kickoff returns would have tied him for second in the league, but he didn’t have enough attempts to qualify.

Green intercepted 24 passes in his seven seasons for the Chiefs. Green was traded to the Los Angeles Rams after the 1983 season. He played two seasons for the Rams.

“This is the biggest award I’ve ever received," said Green, now a high school coach and teacher in his native San Antonio. “Growing up playing football, we always want to be the best. ... This is the culmination of everything."
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INDIANAPOLIS -- I'm going to suspend my NFL scouting combine coverage temporarily to weigh in on this no good, horrible, very bad news that the Oakland Raiders and San Diego Chargers might be moving to Los Angeles.

One of the joys of following the Kansas City Chiefs is watching them play against their division rivals, teams they've battled against twice annually for every one of their 55 AFL and NFL seasons except the strike-interrupted year of 1982.

So much of Chiefs history is tied up in the games against the Raiders, Chargers and Denver Broncos. Those Chiefs-Raiders games from the late 1960s and early 1970s hooked this little kid on pro football and I lived nowhere near Kansas City or Oakland at the time.

Both teams have at various times called Los Angeles home, the Chargers for their inaugural AFL season in 1960 and the Raiders for 13 years in the 1980s and 1990s. But San Diego and Oakland have been their respective homes for so long that those cities are where the respective franchises have their identities. Saying either team belongs to L.A. because of their brief histories there is like saying Dallas has a claim to the Chiefs, who were born in the Texas city.

The possibility of the Chiefs no longer playing their annual games in San Diego (always a favorite trip for Kansas City-area fans) and Oakland is bad enough. Now comes Pro Football Talk with a report that either the Chargers or Raiders would move not only out of the AFC West but to the NFC if both teams move to Los Angeles.

So, in that case, also kiss goodbye to the annual game at Arrowhead Stadium against one team or the other.

Part of the Chiefs dies if that happens. The Chiefs, Broncos and the remaining AFC West team will get a replacement for rival, and Pro Football talk speculates it would be either the Rams or Cardinals.

But things wouldn't be the same. Neither of those opponents stir any passion in Chiefs fans and while it might change to an extent if one moves into the AFC West, it's a stretch to think that the new rival would provide memories to the Chiefs and their fans that the Chargers and Raiders have.
INDIANAPOLIS – Laurent Duvernay-Tardif is a name that many Kansas City Chiefs fans have already forgotten. No reason to recall it last year, really. Duvernay-Tardif, an offensive lineman and a sixth-round draft pick last year, didn’t get into a single game for the Chiefs as a rookie.

Duvernay-Tardif
Just don’t forget about Duvernay-Tardif as the Chiefs proceed through their offseason and get to training camp. The Chiefs haven’t. The medical school student who played at McGill University in Canada looks to be very much in the Chiefs’ plans this year, most likely at guard.

“Think of where he was," Chiefs coach Andy Reid said at the NFL combine, referring to what amounted to a redshirt year for Duvernay-Tardif. “We’re talking maybe a junior-college level of play and now jumping into the National Football League. So the improvement that he made, I just thought it was dramatic. Smart, strong, good athlete. He just needs to play more. I think he has a nice upside."

The redshirt year was part of the plan for Duvernay-Tardif, given the jump in level of competition, as Reid pointed out. But the Chiefs might not be able to wait any longer for him. On the offensive line, the Chiefs have under contract for 2015 tackles Eric Fisher and Donald Stephenson, guards Jeff Allen and Zach Fulton and a handful of developmental prospects, Duvernay-Tardif being the most promising.

Center Rodney Hudson is unsigned and the Chiefs could lose him in free agency.

Duvernay-Tardif had some interesting things to say last month in an interview with CBC in Canada. He revealed that he took some first-team snaps in practice last season because of injuries to other players. Despite that, the Chiefs were never tempted to utilize him in a game.

“[Chiefs coaches] basically told me they wish I would have been able to compete and play during the season, but they weren’t confident enough that I was not going to make a little mental error," he said. "But they told me I was strong enough, fast enough, athletic enough. That’s a big plus for me. Now I know I can play against those guys. It’s just up here [pointing to his temple]. This part, it got better during the season and it’s still going to get better during the course of the year. I’ve only been practicing [offensive line] for three years now. I’m going to get a lot better and I’m already a lot better than I was a year ago.

“Of course [not playing] is going to get a bit frustrating. You think you’re ready, you think you’re better than the guy in front of you but you don’t get to start."
INDIANAPOLIS -- You be the judge whether this should be taken as good news or bad for the Kansas City Chiefs. Given the way Peyton Manning looked when last season finished, which was injured and old, it may be up for some debate.

Manning
In any event, Denver Broncos coach Gary Kubiak said today at the NFL combine that the process of determining whether Manning would return at quarterback next season was ongoing.

"I don't think there's been any assurances or anything," Kubiak said when asked whether Manning would be Denver's QB next season. "It's been about a process that he and [Broncos vice president John Elway] have been working through over the course of the last month.

"No doubt I want him to be. All indications are that from everything that he's said and through his conversations with John that he feels good. He's had this self-assessment or however you want to label that and he feels good about moving forward. So we'll just continue with this process."

So Kubiak left that door cracked that someone else will quarterback the Broncos next season.

If Manning wants to play, it makes no sense the Broncos would turn him away for money purposes. Manning, even as he looked late last season, is better than any alternative the Broncos could reasonably come up with.

Even assuming he plays, I still think the AFC West championship can be a reasonable goal for the Chiefs and the San Diego Chargers for the first time since Manning joined the Broncos in 2012 -- if the Chiefs and Chargers make the right moves in the coming weeks. Kubiak and his coaching staff are just getting started in Denver and, Manning or not, those transitions are rarely seamless.

So anything less than the Manning of old as the quarterback in Denver opens up the division race to competent contenders.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The last time the Kansas City Chiefs entered a draft with more than 10 picks, they came away with five eventual starters who would go on to play in a total of six Pro Bowls.

The Chiefs won’t have two first-round picks or three selections in the third round in this year’s draft, as they did in 2008. But they are expecting at least 11 picks. The Chiefs have their own choice in each of the seven rounds for the first time since 2012. (They traded their second-round pick in each of the last two drafts to the San Francisco 49ers for quarterback Alex Smith.)

The Chiefs are also planning on having four or more compensatory picks as a result of losses in free agency last year.

“[The Chiefs] have 11-plus picks to work with to bring in people,’’ coach Andy Reid said in late December at his end-of-the-season news conference. “We actually have a second-round pick this year. We are sitting 18th in the draft. Not that you want to be there, but we are there. I think that’s a positive. I think all those things add up to a [bright] future.’’

This expected bounty of picks comes at an opportune time for the Chiefs. Their salary-cap situation is tight, they have two must-retain free agents in linebacker Justin Houston and center Rodney Hudson who are still unsigned. They also might have to release veterans such as wide receiver Dwayne Bowe and linebacker Tamba Hali, who have been pillars for the Chiefs for many years, for cap reasons.

So it’s a good time for the Chiefs to load up like they did in 2008. Among the players they drafted that year: tackle Branden Albert, cornerbacks Brandon Flowers and Brandon Carr and running back Jamaal Charles. All except for Carr, who left for a lucrative contract as a free agent to the Dallas Cowboys in 2012, reached at least one Pro Bowl while playing for the Chiefs.

Those Chiefs were deep in the middle of a rebuilding plan and needed players to upgrade their roster at almost every position.

“We needed some positions and we knew we were going to draft guys to start,’’ said ESPN analyst Herm Edwards, who was the Chiefs’ head coach at the time. “We weren’t drafting guys to sit on the bench and develop. We were going to draft them and they were going to play. A lot of those kids ended up playing for us and they ended up being pretty good players. Some of them are no longer there, but they’re in the league and they’re starting at other places.’’

The Chiefs are in a different place now. They won nine games last season, as opposed to four with an aging roster in 2007, and their depth chart doesn’t need a complete renovation.

But the Chiefs still have some work to do this offseason. Their wide receivers were last in the NFL last season in catches (129) and yards (1,588) and, most embarrassing, failed to score a single touchdown. They patched together an offensive line and it failed, for the most part, to adequately protect Smith, allowing 49 sacks and 167 pressures. They are aging in spots, most notably inside linebacker, where projected starters Derrick Johnson and Joe Mays will be 32 and 30, respectively, when next season begins.

The Chiefs won’t have as many picks in the top three rounds as they did in 2008. The website overthecap.com projected the Chiefs to receive picks near the end of Rounds 3 and 7 and two near the end of the fifth.

Even though those comp picks can’t be traded by NFL rules, the Chiefs can deal their own picks. They should be able, if they work this draft right, to cover a lot of ground.

“When you have that many picks, it’s a little more pressure,’’ Edwards said. “But you’ll take that any time. You have a lot of options that way. You can move around in the draft. You can move up, you can move back. You can trade some picks for players or for picks next year. Or you can use those picks this year. If you do that, you can get a lot done if you pick the right guys.’’
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A closer look at the areas the Kansas City Chiefs could address in the draft. We'll get started with a look at the wide receivers, who are scheduled to work out Saturday in Indianapolis.

Position of need: The Chiefs were last in the league at wide receiver in catches (129), yards (1,588) and touchdowns (0). Their No. 1 wide receiver, Dwayne Bowe, had another in a series of uninspiring seasons (60 catches, 754 yards) and will turn 31 in September. It’s past the time where the Chiefs should think about replacing him as their go-to wideout.

Three players the Chiefs could target in the draft:

Dorial Green-Beckham, WR, Oklahoma: Green-Beckham might be the most talented player available in the draft at his position. At 6-foot-6 and 225 pounds, he’s plenty big. He’s also fast and, if he’s in good physical condition, should test well at the combine. But maturity issues will be a factor. Missouri kicked him off the team after two seasons following an arrest for marijuana possession and an incident in which he allegedly forced his way into an apartment and pushed an 18-year-old student down some stairs while trying to see his girlfriend, a friend of the alleged victim. Green-Beckham also hasn’t played in more than a year. He was sitting out his transfer season at Oklahoma last year and then declared for the draft.

Devin Smith, WR, Ohio State: Smith isn’t a polished player yet, but could help the Chiefs generate big pass plays, something they lacked last season. Smith is fast and opposing defenses would have to respect his speed. He played at various times in college from the slot and as an outside receiver, leaving the Chiefs with plenty of options on how to utilize his speed.

Jaelen Strong, WR, Arizona State: Strong could conceivably be available to the Chiefs when they pick in the middle of the second round. He’s not particularly fast, but has a 6-3, 215-pound body and knows how to use it. While he might never become a superstar, he has the look of a player who will have a long, productive career.
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- ESPN analyst Mel Kiper Jr. has posted his second NFL mock draft of the season Insider for those with Insider access. The position for the Kansas City Chiefs hasn't changed from his initial mock but the player has.

This time, Kiper gives Ohio State wide receiver Devin Smith to the Chiefs. He had the Chiefs going in his previous mock with another wide receiver, Dorial Green-Beckham of Missouri by way of Oklahoma.

Interestingly, Kiper has dropped Green-Beckham out of the first round this time.

Smith is a most interesting prospect. He's fast and, as Kiper points out in his analysis of the pick, plays bigger than his listed size of 6-0 and 190 pounds.

There's a lot to like with Smith, who should eventually be able to step into the No. 1 receiver's role for the Chiefs. That's probably a bit much to ask of him as a rookie but he still should be able to help in 2015 a group of wide receivers that was last in the league in catches, yardage and touchdowns.

Kiper has Smith as the fifth receiver to go in his mock, following Alabama's Amari Cooper, West Virginia's Kevin White, Louisville's Devante Parker and Central Florida's Breshad Perriman.

If you're keeping score, Kiper and fellow ESPN analyst Todd McShay have done a total of four mock drafts this year. The Chiefs have selected a wide receiver in all of them with Green-Beckham going twice, White once and now Smith.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Seems like most NFL mock drafts have the Kansas City Chiefs going with a wide receiver in the first round. ESPN's Todd McShay weighed in with another example this week when he gave former Missouri and Oklahoma wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham to the Chiefs with the 18th overall pick.

But it's not a sure thing the Chiefs would go with Green-Beckham or any other wide receiver who's available to them in the first round. General manager John Dorsey tends to stay true to the draft board, so the Chiefs won't force the need, even an obvious one, by drafting a player they don't think is worth the 18th pick.

I bring this up because of a comment McShay made in explaining his pick of Green-Beckham for the Chiefs. InsiderHe suggested an offensive tackle, Miami's Ereck Flowers, for the Chiefs if they don't select a wide receiver in the first round. You need ESPN Insider access to view his comments.

My former Kansas City Star colleague, Terez Paylor, recently did a mock draft and he gave the Chiefs an inside linebacker, Eric Kendricks of UCLA, in the first round.

While wide receiver is an obvious position of need for the Chiefs, it's not so glaring and the Chiefs aren't so good elsewhere they can afford to pass up another player who they believe will be a good NFL player. If their pick is an offensive tackle such as Flowers, a linebacker such as Kendricks or a player at any position other than wide receiver and he becomes a big contributor for them, their 2015 first round has been a success.

Remember this about Dorsey as well: He spent several years involved with the draft of the Green Bay Packers before joining the Chiefs two years ago. The Packers have been incredibly successful drafting wide receivers in the second round in recent years. Jordy Nelson of Kansas State (2008), Randall Cobb of Kentucky (2011) and Davante Adams of Fresno State (2014) are recent examples, though Green Bay drafted Adams after Dorsey joined the Chiefs.

So, if a draft is deep with receivers, they can be had after the first round. If the Chiefs can find one and preferably more in later rounds, they can survive without drafting one with their first pick.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Former NFL quarterback Terrelle Pryor is working out for the Kansas City Chiefs, according to Pro Football Talk.

Pryor
Stranger things have happened than the Chiefs signing Pryor, but it's difficult to see it eventually happening. The Chiefs have a glut as it is at quarterback with Alex Smith, Chase Daniel, Aaron Murray and Tyler Bray. Not much room for another body unless the Chiefs clear out one of the other four.

Smith last year signed a contract extension, so the Chiefs are committed to him as their starter and he's not going anywhere. The Chiefs won't be able to keep both Murray and Bray forever but they like the potential of both players, and it's unlikely they would part with either player before seeing them for at least one more offseason, training camp and preseason.

That leaves Daniel, who is headed into the final year of his contract. He could be expendable if the Chiefs determine that Murray, Bray or even Pryor is ready to be Smith's leading backup.

But if the Chiefs were already at that point, they would have made the move already.

So the Chiefs are most likely just looking, at least for now. They have CFL wide receiver Duron Carter working out as well and needed an arm to throw to him. Pryor, who started some games in 2013 for the Oakland Raiders, can handle that.



Kansas City Chiefs season report card

December, 31, 2014
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video » AFC: East | West | North | South » NFC: East | West | North | South

The Kansas City Chiefs appeared to have reason to prepare for a long and prosperous stay in the playoffs on Nov. 16 after beating the Seattle Seahawks 24-20 at Arrowhead Stadium for their fifth straight victory. The 7-3 Chiefs moved into a tie for first place in the AFC West with the Denver Broncos.

But then the Chiefs lost four of their last six games to finish 9-7. That record wasn’t good enough to put them in the playoffs. The Chiefs lost close games against Oakland, Arizona and Pittsburgh down the stretch. A victory in any of them would have made the difference.

Team MVP: Linebacker Justin Houston led the NFL in sacks with 22, breaking the franchise's single-season record, which was previously owned by Derrick Thomas (20 in 1990). Houston was remarkably consistent. There were only three games in which he was held without a sack. He also had a superb all-around season, including his play against the run and in pass coverage, and the Chiefs used him in a variety of roles. He played them all well. A compelling argument can be made that Houston was the NFL’s best linebacker.

Best moment: The Chiefs rallied in the fourth quarter to beat the Seahawks, giving them a physical and emotional victory over the defending Super Bowl champions. At that point, all things seemed possible for the Chiefs. After losing their first two games of the season, they had rallied to win seven of eight games, and because they were tied with Denver for first place, their chances for winning the AFC West had to be taken seriously. Jamaal Charles had his best game of the season that day, rushing for 159 yards and two touchdowns. It was the only time Charles topped 100 yards all season.

Worst moment: The Chiefs learned in the days after their Nov. 20 loss to the Oakland Raiders that safety Eric Berry had lymphoma. Berry was one of the Chiefs’ leaders, and his absence in the locker room has made an impact. The news caught everybody off guard because Berry had played against the Raiders. But he complained of tightness in his chest afterward and testing revealed a mass and the subsequent diagnosis. The Chiefs started their next game, on Nov. 30 against the Denver Broncos, as if in a daze. They fell behind 14-0 in the first quarter and 17-0 in the second before snapping out of it.

2015 outlook: The Chiefs should be a playoff contender again if they adequately address some glaring weaknesses on the offensive line and at wide receiver. Ultimately, it was their shortcomings at those spots that dragged down their passing game and ruined their season. The Chiefs are expecting several compensatory draft picks because of their losses in free agency last year. That would allow them to cover a lot of ground. The Chiefs might not be contenders for the AFC West championship as long as Peyton Manning is the quarterback of the Broncos, but it will be a disappointment if the Chiefs are not a part of the wild-card race.

Chiefs' offseason practice schedule

December, 30, 2014
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- In another bit of season-ending news, the Kansas City Chiefs have dates for their offseason schedule.

Here are some of their important dates:
  • April 20: Start of offseason conditioning program
  • May 16-18: Rookie minicamp
  • May 26-28: Offseason practices
  • June 2-4: Offseason practices
  • June 9-12: Offseason practices
  • June 16-18: Full-squad minicamp

Training camp will begin in July. We're still waiting to see whether it's again at Missouri Western State University in St. Joesph or elsewhere.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Observed and heard in the locker room after the Kansas City Chiefs’ 19-7 win over the San Diego Chargers at Arrowhead Stadium:
  • The Chiefs mostly said they were unaware of the other games that had an impact on their playoff chances. Offensive tackle Ryan Harris said the Chiefs weren’t certain of their status as their game wound down. “If we were going to the playoffs, somebody would have said something to us after the game," he said.
  • Jamaal Charles finished the game with a hamstring injury. The Chiefs went with Knile Davis as their featured back down the stretch.
  • Quarterback Chase Daniel succinctly summed up the season of linebacker Justin Houston, who had four sacks to finish with 22, a half-sack away from the NFL record set by Michael Strahan of the New York Giants in 2001. “The guy’s a freak," Daniel said about Houston.

Rapid Reaction: Kansas City Chiefs

December, 28, 2014
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A few thoughts on the Kansas City Chiefs’ 19-7 win over the San Diego Chargers at Arrowhead Stadium:

What it means: The Chiefs did their part with regard to making the playoffs. They needed a victory over the Chargers as part of a three-game equation to reach the postseason, but wins by Baltimore and Houston kept the Chiefs on the outside looking in.

Stock watch: Quarterback Chase Daniel played about as well as could be expected as the emergency replacement for starter Alex Smith. Daniel, who learned Thursday night that he would be starting because Smith had a ruptured spleen, completed his first nine passes in getting the Chiefs off to a strong start offensively. The Chiefs sacked San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers seven times. Tight end Travis Kelce had seven catches for 84 yards. He finished the season as the Chiefs' leader in receptions and receiving yardage.

No wide receiving touchdown: The Chiefs remarkably finished the season without a wide receiver catching a touchdown pass. The Chiefs had a close call against the Chargers in the second quarter when Dwayne Bowe initially was given credit for an 11-yard touchdown catch. But after a video review, it was ruled that Bowe fumbled before he crossed the goal line. The Chiefs still got the touchdown but only when Kelce recovered the ball in the end zone.

Game ball: Outside linebacker Justin Houston became the 10th player in NFL history, and the second to play for the Chiefs, to finish a season with 20 or more sacks. Houston had 22, giving him the all-time Chiefs record. Derrick Thomas had 20 sacks in 1990. Houston was a superb all-around presence this season, playing well in pass coverage and against the run. He may have been the league’s best linebacker this season.

What's next: The Chiefs finish 2014 at 9-7.

Chargers vs. Chiefs preview

December, 25, 2014
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When: 1 p.m. ET, Sunday Where: Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City TV: CBS

The San Diego Chargers and Kansas City Chiefs each need a victory in Sunday's game to get into the playoffs. The difference is the 9-6 Chargers don't need any help to get into the postseason. The Chargers would claim one of the AFC wild-card spots regardless of what happens in other games.

The 8-7 Chiefs need to win and then have favorable results in two other games. If the Chiefs win, the Jacksonville Jaguars beat the Houston Texans and the Cleveland Browns beat the Baltimore Ravens, that wild-card spot goes to Kansas City.

The Chiefs beat the Chargers 23-20 in October in San Diego.

ESPN Chiefs reporter Adam Teicher and Chargers reporter Eric Williams preview Sunday's game.

Williams: What does the loss of quarterback Alex Smith mean to the Chiefs?

Teicher: The loss of Smith wouldn’t help the Chiefs no matter when it happened, but the timing of the diagnosis of a lacerated spleen also hurts. Smith practiced two days this week, leaving only Friday for backup Chase Daniel. So not only are the Chiefs going with a quarterback who had taken only a handful of snaps and thrown one pass in two games but one who didn’t get many practice snaps. Daniel played well in the final game of the season last year, also against the Chargers, when the Chiefs rested Smith for the playoffs. He was 21-of-30 for 200 yards and a touchdown. The Chiefs missed a field goal attempt late in the fourth quarter that would have won the game. The Chargers then won in overtime.

Philip Rivers looked fine to me last week against San Francisco, at least in the second half. How limited is he with regard to his back and rib injuries?

Williams: Good question. As you mentioned, Rivers struggled early against the San Francisco 49ers, but then caught fire in the second half and led the Chargers to an impressive comeback victory. Rivers did not practice on Tuesday and Wednesday last week, and the limited reps seemed to put him in better shape physically going into game day. I wouldn’t be surprised if San Diego’s medical staff takes a similar approach this week. Rivers has a high pain tolerance, and can play through a lot of stuff. But at some point Mike McCoy has to weigh how efficiently a banged-up Rivers can perform versus a healthy Kellen Clemens. An added bonus for Rivers has been San Diego’s offensive line, which protected him better the past two weeks. Rivers was sacked just twice in 54 passing attempts against San Francisco.

The Chiefs still have a chance to make the postseason, but need some help after losing at Pittsburgh. How do you think Kansas City players will respond mentally after a tough loss on the road?

Teicher: The Chiefs have had a tough road lately. Four of their past six games have been against teams already in the playoffs. I wonder how much they have left in the tank at this point. The Chiefs still can make the playoffs, though their chance to make the postseason isn’t good even if they beat the Chargers, but I still expect them to play with energy on Sunday. I think they’re fortunate this game will be played at Arrowhead instead of on the road and it’s against a division rival. Those factors should help the Chiefs.

In what ways have the Chargers changed, if any, since they lost to the Chiefs in October?

Williams: Defensively, the Chargers are much different. Linebackers Melvin Ingram, Manti Te'o and Jeremiah Attaochu did not play in the first matchup. Ingram has been San Diego’s most effective pass-rusher since returning from the injured reserve/designated to return list after recovering from a hip issue in Week 11. Te’o is finally living up to his potential and making some splash plays. And Attaochu gives the Chargers another athletic body that can come off the edge. Since Week 10, the Chargers are tied for fifth in the NFL in red zone efficiency (36.4 percent), holding teams to an average of 21 points a contest.

Kansas City has lost four of its past five games, averaging just 18.6 points a contest during that stretch. What are the reasons for the Chiefs’ struggles on offense?

Teicher: The Chiefs don’t get many big pass plays, which is the root of their problem. The reasons for that are many. Pass protection has been mostly lousy. Smith was sacked six times last week in Pittsburgh and it’s not like the Steelers blitzed him much. They rushed four players on four of the sacks and three players on the other two. Receivers have struggled to get free from coverage and Smith had an affinity for checkdowns and other shorter routes. So opponents are lying in wait for Jamaal Charles and the running game and daring the Chiefs to do something they’ve had trouble with -- beating the defense with the deep ball.

What kind of season is Brandon Flowers having? Tough question here, but where do you suppose the Chargers might be right now if he hadn’t come along?

Williams: The Chargers are thankful to have Flowers this season. He’s been the team’s top cover corner, leading San Diego in interceptions (three) and pass breakups (13). Flowers has missed two games due to a groin injury and a concussion, but with first-round draft choice Jason Verrett out for the year after having shoulder surgery to repair a torn labrum Flowers provides valuable leadership and production for a young cornerback group. His confidence and infectious energy has rubbed off on the rest of San Diego’s younger players. It’s safe to say San Diego would not be a win away from clinching a spot in the postseason without Flowers’ contribution. Flowers said he looks forward to playing in Kansas City against his former team for the first time.

What is your assessment of the job Andy Reid has done in his first two seasons with Kansas City?

Teicher: The program was in shambles when he walked in the door so I have to applaud not only the results but how quickly he was able to coax the Chiefs into achieving them. The Chiefs had been doing things the wrong way for a number of years but that abruptly changed when Reid and general manager John Dorsey arrived. The Chiefs have the look of a team that will challenge for a playoff spot for the foreseeable future. But the next step, and this is how Reid will ultimately be judged, is for the Chiefs to go deep into the playoffs and perhaps even make or win the Super Bowl. If he can’t eventually do that, his time with the Chiefs won’t and shouldn’t be viewed as a success.

Chiefs rewarded again in Pro Bowl voting

December, 24, 2014
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Pro Bowl voters have been extremely kind to the Kansas City Chiefs in recent years, and it appears they were again in 2014.

In case you missed it, the Chiefs will be sending four players to the Jan. 25 Pro Bowl in Glendale, Arizona. Running back Jamaal Charles and linebacker Tamba Hali will be participating for the fourth time, linebacker Justin Houston the third time and nose tackle Dontari Poe a second time.

Poe
Hali
Charles
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Houston
Houston is without argument one of the best defensive players in the league and the Pro Bowl should be put out of its misery if he doesn't get selected. Though they aren't having what could reasonably be considered vintage seasons, Charles and Hali have compelling cases, too.

Charles is only 11th in rushing yards and well down the list of receiving leaders, but he's still averaging 5.1 yards per carry and is second in the league in touchdowns with 14. Those statistics, as well as his considerable value to the Chiefs, should at least get him into the discussion.

Hali has six sacks, so unless he has a huge game Sunday against San Diego at Arrowhead Stadium, he will finish with his lowest total since 2008. But he's still having a strong enough all-around season that he, too, at least merits consideration.

But it's difficult to justify the selection of Poe. He is unquestionably valuable to the Chiefs, but hasn't played nearly as well this year as he did in 2013. That can be difficult to quantify but Poe is ranked 35th by Pro Football Focus among defensive tackles this year.

The Chiefs have a couple of others who could have been selected. Fullback Anthony Sherman doesn't play a lot, but he's the top-rated fullback, according to Pro Football Focus. Cornerback Sean Smith is having a strong season, to the point where it wouldn't have been shocking if he made the Pro Bowl.

On balance, though, the Chiefs have little to complain about. In fact, one could argue they made out too well again.

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